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We all have parts of our stories that are hard for us to share. Secrets that are safe and sound locked deep down inside. The parts of our lives that make us feel vulnerable and ashamed.

But….

those stories, those scars have molded us and shaped us into who we are today, the good that bad and the ugly.

It is easy to introduce the good to people, and maybe they even get a glimpse of the bad…but the ugly…no way, we keep that hidden, locked in the closet to deal with alone.

I believe there is freedom in opening that door, letting people peer into the depths of your soul and see who you truly are, inside and out.

Here is a glimpse…here is a flash, of what it is like to be me….

During the ages 5-7, my mother started using drugs. Her addiction consumed her over these years. I remember living in this rundown attic apartment in a sketchy neighbor hood….surrounded by the broken and miserable.

Often I would find myself alone. Completely alone. I remember one night waking up because I felt ill, it was the middle of the night, and I got up to wake her, and she was gone. I just sat in the middle of the dark living room and I cried. I was scared, and I was alone.

Another time I walked into the living room and saw my mother screaming and talking to a blank tv. I don’t know what she saw….but I know what I saw scared me. I remember one night I walked across the street to use the pay phone, alone, at night when my mom was passed out. The building with a phone was a bar I believe, at the time I didn’t really understand that. As I was using the phone I remember all these men coming out of the bar. I got nervous as one started towards me. I quickly turned away and headed back to our apartment. But he still followed. He was saying something but I could not hear. He was still following, so I started to run. I made it to our door…I locked the door and headed up the stairs. I ran to wake my mother as I was in a frantic hysterical state. I begin to tell her what happened and I dont remember why, but she headed to the kitchen (which was at the top of the stair entrance) and there was the man. Standing in our kitchen.

It is a moment that is frozen in my mind. All I remember next is that my mother was able to get him to leave, and she attempted to lock the door, but I guess it was broken because he came back in. Finally he went away. But the memory..it has never left.

We lived in another apartment at one point in these two years….across the hall was a man that my mom would leave me with to babysit me. This man became my best friend, he was so much fun. He played games with me, he bought me toys…I had a blast with him. At some point he moved across the street into a different apartment or building, and my mother would still take me to his home for him to babysit me.

The nature of the relationship changed. He began to abuse me. He would tell me not to tell my mother, and then after would buy me toys. At the time, I was confused. I didn’t really understand what was happening, but I liked the toys.Eventually I began to tell my mother , and for a while she didn’t believe me. She thought people were putting bad ideas in my head.

But I remember one day, we were in the car with my aunt, and I had spoken up about it again, and my aunt said something along the lines as why would she make that up? After that I stopped going to this mans house. It was over.

Next I remember living in a house. I don’t have many memories of this place, but I have a few. I remember finding the beer my mom had hidden in her closet and pouring it down the sink. I remember she was mad. I remember taking care of my little brother and helping her with him. I remember I had a bedroom that my mom was trying to decorate for me. She got me this pink and white horse on a carousal, It was something I treasured for many years.

Shortly after living in this house we were staying in this condo with my younger brothers father. I remember waking up on night because I heard fighting, I came down half way on the steps and I remember sitting on them staring through the railing crying as I saw this man beating and fighting with my mom. Next thing I knew the cops were there. I don’t really remember what happened next.

While we were living in this condo,  one night my mom left my with the next door neighbor , who was her friend…my mom had went out or something. I guess this lady she left me with and her husband had some king of fight and the cops were called again. I was sleeping on the couch and I remember the cops waking me up.

They asked me where my mom was and I said I didn’t know. Then I will never forget this….they told me that the lady watching me told them that a man had abused me and they wanted to know if this was true. I guess my mom had told her. I remember crying and not knowing what to say. The lady kept saying just tell them the truth, just tell them. So I told them.

Next thing I know I was in the back of a police car, unsure of what was happening. That moment is another moment frozen in my mind. The darkness of the night, the flashing lights of the police car…looking back at the house I had just been taken from and not knowing what was going to happen next. I was seven years old when I got taken away, I was seven years old when my life got turn upside down.

I was taken to a children’s home that night. That night I slept on a cot in this huge room with glass pane walls.I remember laying there in the dark. I remember that fear. I remember that pain. I remember the confusion.

So basically after the children’s home I went to live with my grandmother, but she then sent me to live with my grandfather. (they were divorced). Then he sent me to live with the babysitters across the street, then I went to a foster home, then I went to live with my aunt who was going to adopt me, the adoption was close to final stages, but then she sent me back to live with my mom….somehow the courts found out…and again I found myself in a foster home.

I felt, unwanted, unworthy for so long. I felt a burden to everyone. All I wanted was love…all I wanted was a family that was whole. All I wanted was to belong.

So the last foster home I went to actually became the family that adopted me. As much as it scares me to be honest about this….I must be.

The family I was adopted into is a great one, a family that loves the Lord, a family that introduced me to the Lord. A family that gave me a home and offered me a future. But it wasn’t always easy. I had a lot of hurt in me….and I am not sure they ever understood completely. We had a lot of disagreements and misunderstandings. My eagerness to be apart often was received as being a burden. I never really felt like I connected with my adoptive parents when I was living with them. I loved them, and I know they loved me in their way…but it was different then what I had always imagined. I didn’t understand their way of loving at that time, and at the same time, I don’t think they understood just how deep my pain and desire/need for love went. You could say our love languages were different. As I have gotten older I have learned to understand and appreciate their love and sacrifice, and our relationship has grown tremendously! I am forever thankful for them and my respect grows for them all the time.

But at  the time when  I was 18, I was so full of pain and resentment that I pushed them away as I pulled away. I moved out before I graduated and made a mess of my life.I began smoking marijuana, I got involved in a relationship with an older man who was no good for me and had a drug addiction. At one point, the summer after graduation, I even ended up in jail for 3 days.

I went to college….alone and miserable. I numbed the pain with substances. Eventually in the year I got depressed and stopped going to classes, or if I did, I was failing them. One day I was in my dorm….I remember just screaming at God….screaming at him….that there was no way he existed…no way…because if so where was he? Were has he been? How could he have given me this life…this brokenness?

Over the next year I had a lot of ups and downs. I went into a deep suicidal depression for a period…but found my way out of that by the grace of God. I ended up failing out of my first year of college and got a waitressing job and got my own apartment. My life consisted of working, and smoking to numb that pain.

I was completely and totally numb. Until one day God revealed himself to me.

I met a man named Will who changed my life. He was a new coworker of mine, an elderly black man. He was so nice and such a kind soul and he always carried his trumpet with him. One of the first days I worked with him he asked me for a ride home. I was hesitant. But I agreed. As I gave him a ride home…he started praying for me….at first I was freaked out. But then…..I felt something. I felt the presence of God. He started speaking to me as if he knew me. He was telling me that I was loved, I was treasured and I was not alone. He started sharing how much God love me. I truly believe God was speaking to me through this man.

I remember I was just sobbing. He had me pull over at this park. He continued to pray and give me words of encouragement. I remember him telling me that he carried his trumpet with him, so that he could play it when Jesus came back. We wrapped up our conversation as I wiped my tears, I offered to continue driving him home. He said his home was across the street, as he pointed to a homeless shelter. He said he couldn’t get in until 5, so he liked to wait at this park. I remember this moment….the overwhelming feeling I encountered.

This man….yes this man had nothing, nothing except the clothes on his back and his trumpet…yet he had everything…yes he had everything because he had the love and joy of God.

I went home and opened my dusty bible…I opened up to Jeremiah 29:11….I had never read this verse. NEVER. It reads…. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

After that, everything changed. My life was completely and utterly and forever changed. I knew a love that I had never known, I found the home I had always longed for, I found a peace…I found a joy. I found freedom. Freedom from the pain, from the shame, from the guilt, from the hurt, from the numbness. I was awake, and my soul was free.

Since the day I found God, I have had many ups and downs. I have seen many valleys and many hills my friends. It has not always been easy, and It never will be. At times the pain and scars flare up, but God is always there to remind me that I am not alone, and that he is enough. His love is all I need…his love heals. His love frees. His love gives me new life.

Although I have many scars….they are mine. My story has shaped me into the person that I am today….and the person I am today is beautifully flawed, and completely and utterly broken and humbled at the feet of Jesus.

I hope by sharing this story, you are encouraged…that no matter our trials, no matter our past…not matter the burden, no matter how great the pain….there is hope. HOPE for a future…hope for redemption, hope for a everlasting kind of love…hope for freedom from you affliction, freedom from your bondage. Yes in God there is all these things, freedom, love and hope.

God Bless.

-Cherri

 

 

 

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